A rare reed organ damaged by the tsunami that hit Japan in 2011 is now back in its proper home after being restored. 76-year old piano tuner Teruo Wakui from Suzaka in Nagano Prefecture started his restoration project in February 2013. After almost a year, has successfully repaired the organ and has now returned it to the city museum in Rikuzen-Takata in the prefecture of Iwate.
Also known as a harmonium, the reed organ became a popular instrument used in schools, churches and elsewhere during the Meiji era (1868-1912) up until 1970. Wind that is produced when pedals are pumped causes the reeds, narrow sheets of wood inside the organ, to vibrate, producing the instrument’s sound. Kaiho built the reed organ during the Meiji era and was previously played by a primary school teacher Aya Murakami (1887-1959), the woman who erected the region’s first kindergarten school. Her family donated the organ to the museum in 2004 and it is now one of the only three remaining instruments by the same maker. The other reed organs are in Chofu, Tokyo and Inuyama in the prefecture of Aichi. Musuem officials have expressed gratitude to the repair and return of the reed organ in its proper place, describing it “as a valuable cultural asset that illustrates the history of education in our region.”
Wakui, who restored the reed organ is pleased to have salvaged the ruined instrument. Playing it in the museum on Feb 5 to demonstrate its good condition, he noted that, “The old sounds have come back. I’m happy to have been involved in repairing the cultural property with such historical value.” 75-year old Fumito Honda, director of the city museum concurs, “We wanted to convey the enthusiasm of the educator who was so deeply committed to children’s education.”